I had a really intense morning today
Have you ever killed a mouse and looked deep into its black, sad eyes and saw the eyes of the hamster you used to love as a child, “Mickey”. You named that hamster 8 times before you settled on “Mickey”. “Mickey” seemed like the best, most adult, most fitting name for a hamster. And just when your friend sneers and says something stupid like “Oh, it’s not a mouse, why would you name it Mickey” You sneer right back and say “I wasn’t even thinking of Mickey Mouse when I named him, you idiot. Mickey is just a good name.” The first name you had given this hamster was “Buttercup” so in your mind this hamster had come a long way. You named the hamster “Buttercup” because you were just finishing up on a period of time where you had decided to name everything “Buttercup.” Your sister and you had named a bunch of moth’s in your grandparent’s backyard, “Buttercup,” and guess what?! You both knew exactly which ones were which “Buttercup.” You could actually tell Buttercups apart from each other! Your suspicion is that the Buttercup-thing started when you spent that summer working at a horse stable and you wanted to name every horse “Buttercup” and the stable owner said, “Well you can’t do that, these horses already have names.” And you said, defiantly, “Then I want all the new ones to be named Buttercup” And she says back, “But then how would you tell them all apart?” And you look at her like she is INSANE and say, “I would know which one is which,” because, in truth, you knew that a name was just a name, and a name as good as Buttercup was a name everyone should share. You paid attention to stuff like that because you were a kid and kids pay attention to things that adults are too busy to notice.
But then, you realize that when you thought you had killed the mouse, it actually had not died. It was still stuck in one of those glue traps suffering a slow, painful death under your cheap counter that you bought from Target. The one you built while drinking mimosas with your roommate, because your other roommate had just killed himself and you both needed an activity to keep your minds busy. You think about how absolutely shitty this cheap counter is. How the paper towel holder, which was honestly its selling point, had been sitting broken and behind the counter for 7 months now. How its dumb doors have never closed, not even on the first day of this counter’s miserable existence. How Target makes shitty products, but also, how you two were asking for it by being stingy on buying a counter from Target for your kitchen. And then, SQUEAK, there it is again. That mouse didn’t die. That mouse’s squeaks sound like Mickey’s or one of the other hundred hamsters your mom decided to raise because you and your sister were getting older and she realized she wasn’t going to be having a third child and she was sad, but also a little relieved, because you and your sister were a handful. But she needed to fill that void with something, something tangible and living. And so she took your hamster, Mickey, and let it breed with the neighbor’s hamster and then suddenly you had 100 hamsters, A HAMSTER ARMY. You have a maze of tubes for the hamsters to enjoy. You let your daughters name them all, but luckily for you it is way after your oldest daughter has stopped working at that horse stable down the street, and is over the name “Buttercup” so none of your hamsters are named
“Buttercup,” not even the first one. Then you start reading up about hamsters and hamster maintenance and you find out that when hamster mom’s give birth you have to keep the hamster dad away because otherwise he will eat his kids because he wants to fuck the mom again, and you feel sad because life isn’t always fair. And you warn your kids to not let the dad hamsters be near any of the three litters that are going on in your hamster heaven. And your daughters, being diligent and loving of their new hamster friends, keep a watchful eye of all these hamsters to keep the peace. But then, one day, you ignore your daughters when they warn you that you are letting a hamster dad hang out with the hamster mom’s litter and you disagree by saying, “no guys, this one just looks like the dad, it’s definitely the mom.” And both your kids look at you like you’re nuts, like you just picked up a hamster and didn’t even know its name. And then, as you place the hamster back with its young, because you’re a mother and you know that mothers need to be near their young, you see your youngest start to scream as your oldest daughter yells, “The mom and dad just look the same because they are brother and sister! That is the dad!” And then you see, with horror, that the hamster is a man because it has eaten its way through 2 baby hamsters by now. And you grab that hamster and pull it off before it can kill the rest. And, as you place it in a new separate cage you start to see the situation for what it is, and you realize that you are letting brothers and sisters have sex. You are letting them create a weird inbred hamster race. And suddenly, you don’t want any of these hamsters anymore. You want them out of your house for good. You want something much better. You want a dog. A dog is a friend, a dog doesn’t eat baby dogs. You realize what a lie you had been living breeding these hamsters and letting them run amock through your house.
And suddenly, the mouse squeaks again, but this time louder, with his fur coming off and revealing red, tender skin. And you are back in your kitchen with a dying mouse. So you grab for a pot in which to end its miserable life but then hesitate because you don’t want to ruin a pot. Not just from the glue that would obviously stick to the pot, but also from the mouse guts that would stain the pot with death, and over time you cook on that pot again, and you would think about the mouse that had died at its hand and as you take a bite of food that you cooked on the pot, you would convince yourself that you tasted a piece of that dead mouse. And in that way, that pot would be haunted. Haunted by DEATH. Then, with a deep pang, you would miss your cat, Crackers, an expert mouse hunter. He would’ve cleaned this whole situation up nice and neat. Crackers still lives in Baltimore, but you never visit anymore, so Crackers probably doesn’t even remember you, even though that one time you ETed him with a bunch of Beanie Babies. You will fondly remember how Crackers was a little stupid because he grew up in a warehouse that you also lived in, that was run by that slumlord. How that warehouse didn’t have heat or hot water and was covered in Lead paint. You would also remember the hamster in the warehouse named “Pasta” that froze to death that one winter because you couldn’t afford to pay the heat bill and the hamster was just too cold. And you think about how sad that was, and how sad Pasta’s funeral was, mostly because her grave was accidentally dug up by the construction crew across the street when they started building those shitty row homes, in order to gentrify the area. And that reminds you of the shittiness of Baltimore policies. How everyone in power seems to want to only do things that will help them get money, rather than to help their constituents. It makes you think about your own guilt, as a white girl/artist, coming into a community and only ruining it by being white and an artist, because your presence makes other white people, the wealthy ones, want to buy real estate there, and suddenly all the black people that have lived there forever, a lot of them pretty cool neighbors, can’t live there anymore because their mayor doesn’t care about them, because they don’t make their mayor money, because this country is run by money. Everything is run by money.
And then you look at this mouse and ask yourself, how is this mouse different from a hamster. They both have those black eyes and those tiny fury bodies, and tiny cute ears. They both have tiny brains and tiny ideas, they both get hungry and cold. Why is this thing different from your beloved Mickey, or your beloved Pasta? What really separates them from this sad lump of fur that has probably spent the night struggling on the glue trap and squeaking in pain and fear. And then, suddenly, you realize that all of this thinking and reflecting took too long and this mouse has finally died and so you scream and make your male roommate pick up the trap and throw it away before it makes the kitchen smell.